Climbing to 5,199 meters, Mount Kenya is the second tallest mountain in Africa. The scenery surrounding this designated World Heritage Site is breath-taking. It is pristine wilderness with lakes, tarns, glaciers, dense forest, mineral springs and a selection of rare and endangered species of animals, high altitude adapted plains game and unique montane and alpine vegetation. Visitors can enjoy mountain climbing, camping and caving with the mountain’s rugged glacier-clad peaks providing the perfect backdrop.
Mount Kenya National Park consists mainly of the three peaks of Mount Kenya. This gives it a different landscape than the other national parks, but the African animals are still evident, including African elephants, monkeys and a host of birds.Mount Kenya National Park was created in 1949 to protect Mount Kenya and its environment from destruction and development. The Mount Kenya Forest Reserve encircles the national park and the two areas, combined, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mount Kenya National Park covers 715km² (276 square miles) and the forest reserve at the base covers a further 705km² (272 square miles).
Mount Kenya stands a magnificent 5199m (17,057 feet) above sea level, dominating the view for miles around. It is the second highest mountain in Africa, next to Mount Kilimanjaro, and was formed hundreds of years ago by a series of volcanic eruptions. Gradually, the cratered rim has eroded, forming several peaks. The park was created to encourage tourism, to preserve the area’s natural, outstanding beauty, and to conserve the animal habitat and protect it as a water catchment area. Mount Kenya National Park is located between Kenya’s other safari parks – Aberdare, Samburu and Meru National Park.
Of Mount Kenya’s three main peaks, only Point Lenana can be climbed by amateurs on a mountain climbing safari. The other two peaks require full mountaineering skills and technical equipment.The mountain supports rainforest, with thick clumps of bamboo growing above the forest. Higher up the slopes, it becomes moorland with heather and lobelia. A tarmac road runs around the base of Mount Kenya and there are several towns situated along the road, including Naro Moru, Nanyuki and Meru.African animals, including elephants, buffalo, Colobus and other monkeys, Cape buffalo, antelope and giant forest hogs, inhabit the lower forests. They are contained within the national park by electrified fences. The birdlife is also very prolific, including huge eagles and colorful sunbirds. A spotter’s guide may be useful for identifying the animals and birds.
Best time to visit
December to March are the sunniest months. There are some cloudy periods and rain from March to May, and drizzle from October to early December which may restrict clear views.
How to get there
By Road: 175 Kms from Nairobi, the park can be reached on Nanyuki-Isiolo road via Sirimon Track or Nyeri-Nanyuki road near Naro Moru. The park is also reachable via Chogoria on the Embu - Meru road, about 150km north of Nairobi.
By air: The closest commercial airstrip to the park is at Nanyuki.